Moving Day for the Goats
For the five or so years that I've had Angora goats they have always lived in their pen behind the barn. Initially it was just a 50' by 100' pen, cross fenced into two areas. The side closest to the house included their shelter, an 8' by 16' shed, three sides completely walled and the fourth side with a wide door. As we added fences to the property, we added a large gate at the far end of the goat's pen so they had access to the "new" pasture which was connected to all the rest. Our property is basically rectangular and all the pastures ring three sides of the rectangle. Our house sits at the front, near the street. The center of the property is open and includes a free standing riding arena. In the long term the riding arena has been less useful than we hoped. We only used it for riding for the first couple of years and now it's a pasturette with no shade that we use only part of the time. They have more room now but the goats have always lived behind the barn. They always go into their shelter at night and that pen is where they get fed.
Good care of the livestock and the land encourages rotation. In the abstract that makes perfect sense to me but it's not happened here on any planned and organized basis. The ponies have always been moved from pasture to pasture as they eat down the grass but the goats have always remained where they started. Until a couple of days ago.
My plan was to completely scramble where all the animals are so everyone had a new pasture. We have never had a serious parasite problem but moving everyone around is only a good thing. It will discourage developing a parasite problem, give everyone a new view of the world, change the order in which I feed them... Change is a good thing. Did I really just say that?
The logistical problems of scrambling the pastures became immediately apparent. It's not really hot yet but soon the llamas and alpacas will need their sprinklers to keep cool. The sprinklers are only in the goat's pen and the "new" pasture. The ponies can go pretty much anywhere but Eclipse still needs to be by himself since he has a severed tendon in one hind knee and is fed the highest quantity of food and put with either of the other ponies would have to defend his food. The goats can go anywhere. So in the end my big plans of scrambling the locations of all the animals involved moving only the goats.
My goats love me. With a bucket of food they will follow me anywhere. I'm sure it's more my magnetic personality than the bucket of food. Really. I opened the gate and walked boldly across the property to their new pasture. They followed along perfectly. The move was clean and quick and without incident. The ponies were outraged that I had moved these small, fuzzy, smelly creatures in next door to them but calmed down pretty quickly.
I was surprised that the llamas seemed concerned about the goats. Smoky, the guard llama in charge, usually ignores the goats, or at least seemed to, but was very upset when he couldn't see the goats. Even Tucker was concerned.
Behind the barn, the goats didn't see much of me. From the other pastures they could see more of my movements but now that they're in the front pasture, they can see my every move. They can see the door to the house and the barn and the studio. Every time I venture out I have 4 pairs of eyes trained on me. It's slightly unnerving. The goats obviously assumed they were on a day trip to their new pasture. They want to go home. I've tried to explain that this is their new home but they are unconvinced.